Back at the beginning of the year I outlined my expected gaming plans for 2020. How did this turn out? Given that Around March-April all gaming for my household suddenly became an online affair, that was definitely an unexpected turn of events.
Well....I predicted with no real effort that Pathfinder 2E and Cypher System would remain go-to games. I did indeed complete a level 1-20 campaign around August of this year in PF2E, and also ran approximately three smaller campaigns, one of which is still ongoing but on hold for the moment. For Cypher System I had a couple small campaigns, one of which paused when frustration over the RNG in Roll20 to cause near constant failure for the players (a thing to ponder as to why) led to my deciding to switch to systems where the probabilities were more "baked in" to the game system (e.g. did not require measuring odds and spending points to influence those odds).
I mentioned Forbidden Lands RPG, which I was quite keen on having picked it up and read through it, but in the end it's proven to be a nonstarter (so far) for several reasons, though the actual module content published for it has proven to be a bounty of useful ideas in other games.
I also mentioned Alien RPG, which I had just snagged. My only real accomplishment with this system in 2020 was to read through it thoroughly and admire it as a fan of the franchise, but I haven't found the energy to taunt my players with it, yet.....on the plus side, it now has Roll20 support, so it is distinctly possible I will get that chance in 2021.
On Starfinder, I am pleased to say that toward the end of the year I finally got back to this, and have been running the latest Adventure Path from Paizo as the basis for the new campaign. It's proving to be fun and actually kind of instructional...I haven't run any published modules from Paizo in at least ten years, and while the new module series (Fly Free or Die) has some quirks, it's got the right sort of framework on which to drape my style and my players' interests.
Of the last two games I talked about, Cyberpunk Red released quite late in the year so I am still absorbing it in all its glory; it might merit a "game of the year" award but I won't know until I can find the time to--you know--play it. And for Savage Worlds Adventure Edition, I might have got this going but for the pandemic, though late in the year some card support released on Roll20, but still no rulebook support in the compendium, unfortunately.
Of the pick-up-and-play games, the only ones that I gave attention to were White Star and Cepheus Light. Both got some one shots (White Star was intended to go for longer), but ultimately I realized something strange and dark about 2020: I just wasn't in the mood for ultra-lite systems. I don't know if this is just a side effect of being nearly 50 and having a certain sort of "style" to my play that expects a bit more crunch, or if it's a reflection of the fact that I picked two systems to run which just didn't end up cutting it for various reasons. Cepheus Light did not feel like it offered something the full Traveller experience didn't already do better, and White Star felt too much like a derivative pastiche this time, a monument to other better things, that I just felt utterly deflated when I realized I wasn't enjoying it.
About the most fun I did have was creating an elaborate 1st edition Gamma World game for Roll20, in which I ported everything over, making my own bestiary and rules compendium in the process. I haven't as yet had a chance to run it, probably because I want to preserve the nostalgia of the experience and not expose it to the raw reality of my contemporary preferences, but it was a lot of fun to tinker with the experiment. Truth is, when I do get around to running some more post-apocalyptic stuff, it will be most likely with either GURPS or Mutant Crawl Classics.
The other "surprise" of 2020 was that after the Pathfinder 2E mega campaign ended I decided at first to run Cypher System, but with a 4-8 session "break" using D&D 5E first. That turned into a longer run than expected as we decided to wait for Godforsaken to come out, and as of now the D&D 5E campaign has taken legs and appears to be one for the long haul right now.
Oh! Almost forgot: I managed to run another Call of Cthulhu short campaign this year, and have been an actual player (yes! a player!) in an ongoing CoC game set in the 1920's run online by an old friend of mine from Seattle. In short: awesome. I would say my Cthulhu stuff this year is #2 in fond gaming experiences right behind the Pathfinder 2E mega campaign, which was easily one of the best campaigns I've run in the last two decades.
As for 2021's plans.....I'll save that for a future column next year!